BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: A History of Warfare by John Keegan, Pimlico pounds 8.99

This extended meditation on the clash of armies takes in all parts of the world where societies have come into conflict - from the closed and insulated 'total wars' of the Easter Islanders to the all-in world wars of our time. From the start Clauswitz is robustly contradicted: 'War is not the continuation of policy by other means,' says Keegan, who prefers the crisper verdict of Sherman: 'Glory is all moonshine. War is hell.' The argument is underpinned by hope: war is not inevitable, but a habit. But it's a habit we've failed to kick for 4,000 years and - modern weapons being what they are - the time available for us to kick it is running out.

Mozart statue

(Photograph omitted)

Where shall we meet?: The Orange Brewery SW1

The Orange Brewery brings together the two sides of London: although it is in the centre of one of its richest residential areas, only about half the clientele will be wearing suits. The great appeal, to those who care about such things, is that they brew their own beer, which includes SW1 (pounds 1.90) named after their own postal district; SW2, presumably on the assumption that tourists don't know where Brixton is; and the nutty Pimlico Porter. Speedy movers can colonise the few sofas, otherwise it is a scrum for bar stools or a place at the tables outside. There's also a great pinball machine. The pub is easily reached: it's a mere three-minute walk from Victoria coach station.

Where shall we meet?: Bar Italia, W1

Bar Italia is an old feature of late-night London: one of the few places you could go when the boozers closed. This classic espresso bar - a long thin room with a counter on one side and a shelf on the other - is filled at pretty much any hour of the night with a chattering crowd who spill on to the pavement with their coffee and cake.

Country Matters: Let us never go the way of the Ik

IN MY experience country people tend to be good- natured and generous - and no doubt this is why nimbyism, which seems to be gaining ground everywhere, is causing so much bad blood. Selfishness is unattractive in any context, but especially in rural communities if it deprives people of rights to which they have long been accustomed.

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Nicholas II: Emperor of all the Russians by Dominic Lieven, Pimlico pounds 10

Previous books on the last Tsar were about the family man, the victim of a terrible crime. This is a sympathetic 'study of the reign as much as the man', aiming to show how different the Russian monarchy was from those of other countries, how many of the problems faced by Nicholas II were structural, and how antiquated his position was. He had absolute power over 150 million subjects, commanded them in a world war, yet stamped his own letters. A 'sensitive man with high ideals', Nicholas tried almost everything to make his rule work - autocracy, reform, constitutionalism - but wasn't up to it. He and his family paid for these pains and mistakes in a hail of bullets in Ekaterinburg.

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Mary Renault: A Biography - David Sweetman: Pimlico, pounds 10

Renault was one of my favourite writers as a young teenager, and I can remember dark rumours circulating that this mysterious novelist, whose flyleaf was cryptically short on detail, was Really a Man. Well now I know. She was a lesbian - not a term she liked - who lived for 35 years in South Africa with a woman she met while nursing in Britain. She wrote six novels of contemporary life until she found her subject, ancient Greece, about which she wrote eight more, some of them classics. Sweetman gives useful insights into the more puzzling aspects of Renault - suggesting why, for instance, women are given such a hard time in her novels. He is also concerned to show her sympathy for the politically oppressed - not just homosexuals, but the disenfranchised masses of her adopted home.

Don't marry a television celebrity: Fame affects character, as Ruth Inglis discovered when her husband became a well-known Granada presenter

I WAS married to the late Brian Inglis for over 15 years from 1958 to our divorce in 1974, one decade of which encompassed his television fame in the Sixties as presenter for All Our Yesterdays and What the Papers Say, programmes often running concurrently in similar weeks.

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: Rules of Desire: Sex in Britain, World War 1 to the Present - Cate Haste: Pimlico, pounds 10

The first WPCs (introduced in 1914) were used as morality police, keeping tabs on 'women of bad character' while their husbands fought in the trenches. By the end of the century, as Cate Haste says in this authoritative and readable study, responsibility for sexual order had shifted from the public to the private domain (although 'bad character' can still be an issue at the Benefit Office). On the whole, Haste sees women as having done well, sexually, after the all-hanging-out 1970s and the Aids-blighted 1980s, insisting more and more on equality and even finding that 'suddenly it's safe to dress provocatively'. OK, this is a feminist tract and it's about sexual politics rather than sex. But it's a sane one.

Monochrome mummers: A retrospective of the theatrical photographs of Nobby Clark has just opened in London. Marina Benjamin on the artist and his methods

Nobby Clark has been snapping stars of the stage for 25 years. With a knack for putting his subjects at ease, an eye for the spontaneous moment, and a reputation for getting pictures the paparazzi would kill for, Clark has a lot to be proud of. But he wears his success lightly: 'Photography should be fun - but if you're flippant, it's assumed that you don't take your work seriously.'

Led up the garden path to a small, damp, sunless cell

Spring is here and it is time to get the garden in order, so I have asked horticultural expert Ivy Stubbs to tackle all your garden-related queries.

BOOK REVIEW / Paperbacks: The Road to 1945 - Paul Addison: Pimlico, pounds 10

Ground-breaking study of how Attlee's politics replaced Baldwin's, and the policies of a wartime government (famously, the Beveridge report) led to the creation of the welfare state. Nearly 20 years on from his book's first appearance, Addison provides an epilogue to answer his critics and to acknowledge that many institutions and attitudes which in 1975 seemed permanent were later removed by Mrs Thatcher.

Education: Practice makes perfect, if you get the chance: Passport to Pimlico opens the door - Playing a musical instrument offers many benefits, but Diana Hinds asks: are there enough opportunities to learn?

CATHERINE HOLDER, now 15, started violin lessons at the age of four. Her older sister, Joanne, had been selected by her primary school for free tuition at a Saturday morning music centre. When it introduced Suzuki violin classes for its youngest pupils, Catherine was invited to join in.

MUSIC / Shut your eyes and think of Mozart

'SEEN HER?' explodes Papageno in Die Zauberflote. 'Seen the Queen of the Night? What mortal man has ever seen her?' Well, the entire audience in Martin Duncan's production for a start, because the said Queen has been peering through an illuminated window at the back of the set for the past 10 minutes; and it's a bad misjudgement, undermining the dramatic impact of the moment when she does, officially, arrive on stage with thunder in attendance. But then, this production is crazy with misjudgements - and a cheap post- modern kitsch that made me squirm when it was first done at Scottish Opera last December. Many liked it; I didn't.

Saturday Night: Serving a short stretch in prison

Ed and I reclined across the taxi's seat as it swerved through a stream of tail- lights, cutting across a bubbling exodus from central London towards HMP Wandsworth. This would be my first visit since 1978, when a friend was incarcerated there. I remember my shock and revulsion upon going to see him, only to be met by a monosyllabic ashen-faced stranger who smelt funny and never smiled. His broken hand, he insisted, was the result of an accidental fall down a flight of stairs. His mother and I were unconvinced.
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